Curse of the Fly 1965 REVIEW

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Curse of the Fly 1965 is limited by its low budget, but director Don Sharp does a fine job on this British-made Fly sequel, writes TERRY SHERWOOD

Curse of the Fly 1965 REVIEW 1

TITLE: Curse of the Fly
YEAR RELEASED: 1965
DIRECTOR: Don Sharp
CAST: Brian Donlevy, George Baker and Carole Gray

Review of Curse of the Fly 1965

The original ‘Fly’ films beginning with the 1958 Vincent Price/Al (David) Hedison picture and its 1959 sequel are a touchstone of sorts for me in my genre viewing. 

The sequel film Return Of The Fly 1959 was the first film I watched on a local television show called Horror House.  The footage of the fly crashing through the glass lab case sparked a conversation with my friends the next day on the bus.  I later found out through the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine that the series had a third film that rounded out the story. 

Curse Of The Fly 1965 is a horror/science-fiction film by Australian-British director Don Sharp. Unlike the other films in the series that were filmed in the USA, this third instalment was produced in the United Kingdom. Oddly Curse of the Fly 1965 was rarely seen as it was the only entry in the Fly film trilogy that did not receive a video release till 2007, when it was in a boxed set with the original series.

Come Fly With Me

American Robert Lippert, who had a reputation for making cheap films but was never a “stinker”, was producing films in England to take advantage of the Eady Levy. The Eady Levy was a portion of the box office that would be given to the British Film industry making sure it employed UK actors in the cast and crew.  To reduce costs, English producer Jack Parsons was used as well as director Don Sharp.

Curse Of The Fly 1965 opens with one of the most artistic openings to a genre film in which broken window glass is hurled at the audience.

Reminiscent of Giallo style, a young woman Pat Stanley (Carole Gray) emerges from the window in slow motion clothed only in underwear.

Stanley runs slowly out in the night towards the gate of what is later revealed to be a hospital.

The sequence is photographed atmospherically in black and white with romantic piano accompaniment. Besides the obvious titillation of the sequence, which is handled tastefully, the opening was a metaphor for a rebirth, an emergence from a cocoon not unlike the life cycle of a fly.  

Curse of the Fly

Pat meets Martin Delambre (George Baker), who rescues her and takes her on to a new life. The Delambre family is the Canadian family near Montreal that is developing the matter transporter. The first films of the series highlighted the malfunctions of fusing the human body with an accidental house fly.  This is the theme of body horror that Canadian David Cronenberg and his son have explored ad nauseum, including a gory remake of The Fly 1986 followed by a  sequel. 

A Fly In The Ointment 

Curse Of The Fly 1965 takes little continuity from the previous films.  The story concerns the perfection of the teleportation unit but also the effect of that experimentation on the Delambre Family.

In a moment with a wonderful gothic look and angles by Don Sharp is a sequence reminiscent of  Island Of Lost Souls 1932 and the claustrophobic hall moment in Repulsion 1965. This is when the film shows us mutations of the failed experiments.   A female that turned out to be the wife of Martin has a facial disfigurement and a mutated foot.   The other is a particularly violent elf-like being who flits around grinning in the dark.  The device doesn’t work of course as the world order must be  re-established and both pay a  terrible price for family secrets  and  the madness of mutating other people,   

Fear Of Flying

British film for some reason felt it had to cast American actors in key roles to get the lucrative box office.  Once again we have Brian Donlevy of “Quatermass”, who appears as the ageing Henri Delambre, who still is chasing the mad dream of the transporter. 

Donlevy’s performance as the tragic scientist is predictably stilted as this was late in his career.  Donlevy was more the voice and face of authority in these pictures having done his best work in film noir’s The Glass Key 1942  and Impact 1949.

George Baker as the younger Delambre is the tragic romantic lead as he switches from a hopeless desperate lover/husband of Pat to a driven scientist with a family secret.

Pat Stanley, Carole Gray delivers probably the best performance of the film, giving a very natural 1960s “Love Child” ambience.

The performances by Asian Burt Kwouk and horribly made up non-Asian Yvette Rees, as servants Tai and Wan try hard but viewed today, are seen as sad cliches. Kwouk had a long career in film and television in all genres.  He may be best known as Cato Fong, Peter Sellers fighting manservant in the Pink Panther series.

A low budget does limit the sets used and some of the props, however, Don Sharp does a fine job as he would perfect the art of hiding a set and using effective lighting in his Hammer Films and others. 

Curse Of The Fly 1965 works on the level of showing the effect of experimentation on people, later moving to the more traditional rampage and payoff.   

Have you seen Curse of the Fly 1965? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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